Letters to the Editor

Little to be proud of


Kym MacMillan (Letters, January 16) condemned the use of the term "British invasion and occupation" by Ester Gaia (Letters, January 13) when she referred to the invasion and occupation of Australia by the British. 

He suggests such language was used to try and reduce the significance of Australia Day. Would the writer prefer a euphemistic, less encompassing and therefore less accurate term such as the "settlement" of Australia by the British?" 

He also tells us Australia would not be the nation it is today had it not been for the First Fleet and the subsequent development of the land as a democracy in the British tradition. He is right. 

If Australia was not invaded and occupied it would have the optimum level of population and the use of the land would be ecologically sustainable. Australia today has a level of population which is ecologically unsustainable made worse by unbridled consumerism.

We invaders have little to be proud of and the young have no reason for optimism.

Paul Remington, Gordon


Picking a new date

When it comes to public holidays we really are a strange lot. 

Even though about 75per cent of us are republicans, we celebrate the birthday of a foreign monarch who wasn't actually born on the day being recognised. The same goes for the birthday of the nation. We celebrate birth of Australia on the day that the New South Wales penal colony was founded by Governor Phillip.

Australia though did not come into existence until  January 1,  1901. Before then, there was no Australia, just six separate and not entirely self-governing colonies. 

Yes, January 26 has a claim to marking the birth of a nation, but it simply isn't the best claim. And, if you think Australia Day ought to be more than just another long weekend but an expression of common aspirations and a regard for the best of what has gone before, you simply wouldn't pick a date that gratuitously offends the descendants of the first inhabitants and means a lot more in one state than it does to the rest of the country.

Other days are on offer. Even if  January 1 is considered a non-starter, there's a good field of runners including the date that the first federal parliament first met (May 9) or any of the key days associated with the passage and proclamation of the Australia Acts 1986 that severed the last formal colonial legal ties between Britain and Australia. 

Failing all that, just pick a date that doesn't undermine the very basis of the shared experience and mutual respect you are trying to recognise and promote.

Bob Bennett, Gowrie

Freedoms not a fluke

One could get the impression from recent letter writers to The Canberra Times that the incremental Islamisation of Australia is not a matter of concern. 

For example, a recent writer seems unconcerned about halal certification (never mind those who are appalled by the sly introduction of this Islamic tax on our foods), another welcomes the burqa (never mind those who see it as symbolic of separation and divisiveness), some are unconcerned by the construction of mosques in our suburbs (never mind that mosques are not like churches), and some are willing to argue against freedom of speech (never mind that being offended is part and parcel of being free to express an opinion).

One might pause to reflect that the Koran does not produce the same kind of societies as the Bible, and Marxist atheism produces different results again.

Christophobia is evident in some letter writers. However, they too should realise that the liberties and freedoms we enjoy in Australia are not a fluke and arise from Biblical values and ethics.

J. W. Farrands, Isaacs

Making our  choices

Clive Banson's letter (January16) will resonate with the large section of our community which despises or disregards religion.  Unfortunately, much of what he says is true. Of course, many "gullible young men" have been "sucked in" by other things such as greed, ambition, jealousy, hatred, racism, intolerance and so on.

But sticking to religion, there is a real difficulty in "getting it right". The church itself has demonstrated this. 

How many generations of Christians have sweated out their lives in fear and dread, punishing themselves to "get into heaven" when they die, never knowing that God's way is love and Heaven is now. As a practicing Christian I must say that my own experience is unbelievably wonderful.

We lament the choice of the "gullible young men" who become terrorists, but each of us is constantly making choices which affect our world.

John Miller, Farrer

Timetables disgrace

I wish to concur with A. Kim's letter (January 16) regarding ACTION buses' removal of all bus timetables after 11pm, particularly on a Friday and Saturday night. 

It is now not possible to travel from Gungahlin Marketplace to the city (a major route) on a Friday or Saturday night after 10.55pm. It is even worse on the Friday night when the last bus leaves at the ridiculous early hour of 10pm. 

Prior to the recent changes you could catch a bus after 11pm on a Friday or Saturday night through to 11.25pm. Why did ACTION buses do this? 

If one is planning to have a big night in Civic drinking with friends on a Friday or Saturday night the safest and conscientious option is to travel in by public transport rather than drive in. So catching an ACTION bus, rather than an expensive taxi, is the best option. But that is now not possible after the still early hour of 10pm on a Friday or 10.55pm on a Saturday.

This is a disgrace for such a large city like Canberra, the capital of Australia.

As M. Kim correctly puts it, are all Canberrans "expected to be docilely tucked up in bed" by 10pm on a Friday night or 11pm on a Saturday night?

Sebastian Cole, Ngunnawal

Growth questioned

If Andrew Barr is spruiking Canberra's liveability (Asian Cup matches a rare chance to show off Canberra, January 10), it does raise the question of how liveable Canberra is going to be if the city grows to well over 500,000.

Our home is in a water-limited region on the fragile inland river system from which the ACT took even more water to store in the expanded Cotter Dam without  a murmur. Is this the right place for a city of one million people or more?  The ACT urgently needs a population policy.

Sarah Brasch, Weston

Dangerous to allow specious claims about immunisation

Dr Brendan Whyte (Letters, January 15) should stick to whichever non-scientific field he has his doctorate in and rest assured that other "controversial" theories in immunology have been considered, scrutinised and thoroughly debunked. 

Citing the practices and resistance to change of the medical fraternity 150 years ago, as if it has any relevance to the vast, hyper-connected and rigorously peer-reviewed body of knowledge that exists today, lends his argument no credibility. 

The people equipped to assess Sherri Tenpenny's strange ideas already have, and they have been found to be both incorrect and dangerous. Preventing her from disseminating those ideas to a wider audience stops gullible parents from exposing their children (and any other children with whom they come into contact who, for whatever reason, haven't been immunised) to the unnecessary risk of serious infection, and is no more a freedom of speech issue than preventing Kellogg's from printing "100 per cent nut free" on boxes of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. 

We are very lucky to live in one of the most liberal democracies during a golden age of personal freedoms, but obscenity, defamation, hate speech, racial vilification and, in this case, public safety, must all be considered before you open your mouth and say whatever you want – freedom of speech is not limitless and never has been.

James Allan, Narrabundah

Crace blocks a disgrace

How disappointing it is to stand by and watch the ACT Labor government retreat from the responsibilities it has to ratepayers ("Residents helpless over abandoned blocks", Canberra Times, January 13). 

Subject to time constraints, the leasehold system in the territory empowers the government to terminate a lease if it is not being used for its intended purpose or is in breach of building covenants. 

You might ask what is the point of persisting with and paying for a land-management system if it is not properly policed. 

Canberrans are aware that we have reached a sorry state in this place when the government cannot control or direct its own department. I fear no action will be taken on the Crace blocks due to lame excuses that seem to persist around the area of the management of municipal services. One only has to observe the terrible, untidy state of the weeds on the roads, gutters, curbs and median strips.

The  Chief Minister is happy to lift our rates but not the government's standards. What we simply need in return is properly managed and effective municipal services.

John Malouf, Hawker

Top-level hypocrisy

I was amazed to read "$20 cut to Medicare GP rebate faces Senate revolt" (Canberra Times,  January 15) .

Tony Abbott has broken his holiday to call on Labor and the crossbenchers to put up their policy to reduce budget deficits. Is he going to listen if they do? 

Mr Abbott failed to mention that he went to the last election promising no change to Medicare. He didn't spare the Gillard government's broken promise for putting a price on carbon pollution.

Anyway, that carbon was collecting revenue. So far, Mr Abbott has managed to repeal that tax and started spending more on his signature reform "Direct Action Plan". Now he is asking Labor and the crossbenchers to do something about it. This is top-level hypocrisy.

Sankar Kumar Chatterjee, Evatt

Habitats bulldozed

The ACT government, quite rightly, is determined to have all cats confined. This decision is also applauded by the Conservation Council. But neither have mentioned the terrible damage done to the ecosystem and the animals that live within it by the building of new suburbs in the first place. 

Whole swaths of ecosystem (including pasture lands) are bulldozed and built over. I assure you, this also kills the animals that live within these areas; animals, no doubt in their thousands, such as lizards, snakes, insects, birds who live in the grasses and in the trees, plant life, all destroyed or displaced by development.

Yet no one poses this as a problem. Whilst we insist on our anthropocentric solutions, the natural environment and non-human species that  live within it are under constant threat.

Carolyn Drew, Page

Contradictory rules

A couple of years ago, I went to the Hopman Cup in Perth. We were not allowed to bring full water bottles into the stadium but had to empty them and refill with water once inside. 

On Wednesday, I went to the Prime Minister's XI cricket at Manuka Oval. Security staff were checking that drinking bottles were full and apparently not letting in empty bottles. Can anyone explain this or is it just a case of East and West rivalry, one side not wanting to be the same as the other?

Michael Campbell, Theodore

Rugby player a man of great compassion

It was gratifying that David Pocock has been selected as co-vice-captain of the Brumbies. 

There was a slight worry  he might be overlooked after his arrest in November for his non-violent protest at the proposed Maules Creek coalmine. 

The mine, if built, will emit approximately 30million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, soak up 3million litres of water from the local river, flatten large tracts of the ancient Leard State Forest that contains 30 threatened species, including the koala, and many sites of cultural significance for the Gomeroi people.  

How many other footballers are even aware of the damage this mine will cause, let alone do something about it?

The Brumbies are lucky to have Pocock, not only for his considerable sporting skill but also because he is a man of intelligence, compassion and courage ("Pocock opens up about Zimbabwe violence", Canberra Times,  January 12). 

His family gets kicked off their land in Zimbabwe, yet Pocock sets up a charity to help farming communities there become self-sufficient. 

He is an ambassador for gay and lesbian rights. A footballer campaigning for same-sex marriages? Extraordinary!

Canberrans, Australians - we're all lucky to have Pocock, not just the Brumbies.

Jenny Goldie, Michelago




Finally, there is somebody else out there who sees the positives of the Light Rail Project ("Light rail ideal", Ken Pullen, January 16). Like Ken, I will never see it completed however I think it will be amazing.

Judy Bailey, Kambah



Please, those self-righteous writers who criticise Charlie Hebdo,  look at a collection of the cartoons. Crude some may be but these caricatures are not "Islamophobic". 

They rightly lampoon the fundamentalists of Islam and all religions who seek to impose their views through violence and coercion.

J. Ellis, Weetangera



There is no better way to unite and enrage Muslims than to publish silly cartoons about their religion or Mohammed. 

Publishing offensive cartoons about Islam is not constructive.

Robert Bom, Rockhampton Qld



No amount of special pleading such as that employed by recent correspondents can turn January 26 into an appropriate date for Australia's national day. It marks the establishment of the colony of NSW and a land grab, on an epic scale, from the indigenous people.

Doug Hynd, Stirling



Don't worry, Joe ("Joe Hockey raises prospect of Australians living until 150 to justify budget cuts", January 19), if we continue to do virtually nothing about global warming, no one will live to 150.

Patricia Saunders, Chapman



My, isn't this federal government full of no surprises.

Phil O'Brien, Flynn



The shameless display of money grabbing will lead, via the democratic process, to a pokie-free ACT.

Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW



That's a good article by Dean Hall on pages 1 and 4, (Times 2,  January 16.)

Jim Jones, Charnwood



Phil Johnston (Letters, January 19) must have missed the news stories last year informing readers the Gillard/Rudd government purchased leases of the bulletproof BMWs (not the Abbott government) in preparation of the G20 for visiting dignitaries and world leaders.

Michele Chapman, Macarthur

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